Thanks to long time fellow Woody Boater Paul And Karen Harrison for sharing this wonderful and sad final day of summer for their beloved multi award winning Gar Wood up in the great North West.
Our last day of the season was much like I imagined it would be as I drove the 550 miles back from Portland to the cabin on Friday, except better . The weather was forecast to be picture-perfect and after a morning spent cleaning up outside and pulling boats, Karen and I decided to take a last ride of the season in the Gar Wood. Our destination was a small creek 30 miles up the lake, which flowed into Shuswap at that point. The attraction, aside from the beauty and remoteness of the place, was the Sockeye salmon run. Shuswap Lake is a major transit point for millions upon millions of Sockeye salmon which return to the river in which they were born to spawn and die. The largest salmon run in the world is the Adams River run, to reach which the fish must migrate through our lake. Rather than the crowded, commercial spectacle that the Adams River has become, we chose to boat to the mouth of this small creek at the most remote end of the lake, beach the boat, wade amongst the fish and just take it all in. For great information on the run – http://www.salmonsociety.com/
This very small creek was just teeming with salmon – all of them appearing very haggard with orange/red bodies, humped backs and hooked jaws. The energy they had expended and were continuing to expend as they battled the riffles, shallows and gravel of this barely shin-deep rivulet was very evident. We were treated to one of nature’s most poignant and profound sights – the embodiment of a drive and instinct that we still struggle to understand. We watched as hundreds of salmon paired off in the shallows, participated in elaborate mating rituals and prepared a redd (a sort of nest) in the gravel for their eggs. These fish, every one of them, will be dead in a matter of days but the billions of fertilized eggs they leave behind will remain. People come from all over the world to BC and other pacific coastal areas to watch this phenomena, and it is easy to see why. We were very wary of bears, which are also attracted to this creek in numbers, but for a different reason!
We returned to the boat after leaving the spawning stream to find a crowd of people gathered, and two new boats beached beside ours. What had happened while we were away was that two cool “late-classic” fiber-glassics had pulled in beside us – a 1987 22’5” Bayliner Cobra and a 22’ 1979 Glastron-Carlson. The reaction of the various folks on the beach was quite remarkable – there were several very large houseboats and smaller pleasure craft parked nearby and the occupants of them all ventured over to look at our boats. The folks ranged in age from early 20-‘s to mid ‘50’s and they were all enthralled by all three boats and were peppering us with questions about them. The dozens of folks that came over were not “classic-boaters” but they loved cool stuff, and were drawn over by this impromptu little gathering on the shore. They didn’t really care what the boats were made of or even what year they were – they just liked them and recognized as unique and distinctive.
The Glastron Carlson is owned by Keith MacInnis of Kamloops, and he owns a classic. He just replaced the engine, but kept the original Ford engine in case he wishes to return it to original. He uses his boat on the South Thompson river and on Shuswap whenever he gets the chance. I sure hope he joins our ACBS chapter and comes to the show next summer – his boat gets lots of attention. The Bayliner Cobra is owned by a local fellow who was out for the day with his family – three generations in that boat, having fun, tubing and watching the salmon. The owner of the Bayliner, a fellow in his 60’s, told me he had built a Glenn-L from a kit as a young man. What a great way to spend the day – out in a classic with your family! I have never seen a Bayliner like this one before, and it certainly draws attention!
As the day wound down and we had to leave to pull the boat, it struck me that outside of a few people, no one really cares what boats are made of – they care if someone takes pride in their ownership and care, that they use them and preserve them. They appreciate the effort it takes to keep them going and they appreciate the opportunity to see them in use. Many were flabbergasted that we had beached the Gar, let alone the other two, but I said “they are boats and they need to be used, no matter what”. This was indeed our last day on our home lake this season, but it was about as good a day as we could imagine. Just how fortunate are we to be able to hop into a great old boat and motor up the lake to see one of the nature’s greatest shows? I am sure many WB will be sharing similar stories of great “last days” of the season, and we look forward to reading them.